Joel T. McGrath's Blog
July 14, 2017
Free will is an illusion.
Destiny is a lie.
The truth is something in-between.
Be the first to discover something new...
Coming December 5, 2017.
Pre-order yours today.
July 10, 2017
So, it's been a difficult (if not seemingly impossible) journey to this place in time. Anyone who tells you to quit pursuing your dream, tell them about me because I'm living
proof that they're wrong. I've spent the better part of ten years and amassed 350 rejection letters while trying to get published. Now after all this time, frustration, and doubt, I can say
without hesitation, I am published through Post Hill Press, distributed through Simon & Schuster, December 2017. Not only that, if you work hard enough, remain humble, and keep
believing, dreams still come true. Even in the darkest of days, you will see the light shine on all of your effort.
June 22, 2017
Did you know your brain craves new things? All of our brains crave new things. In fact, one of the best things we can do for our long-term brain health is try new things. Yet sadly, most of us
avoid new things like the plague, so to speak.
However, younger, youthful minds are flexible to new things, whereas older minds are more like cement, set and stagnant.
According to an article from Psychology Today, trying new things are important for these reasons:
As an example, say you heard there's some new entertainment you're interested in seeing, but instead you're told you can only see what's on the shelf at your local store, which happens to be
movies, music, and books from a decade ago, give or take fifteen or twenty years. Sure, they're classics, and you'll always enjoy them, but for your brain's sake, take this test:
Name the year these came out. Now, now--no cheating with Google.
How healthy is your brain?
1) "Trying something new often requires courage. And needing to summon courage is itself a benefit. Once it's released it will, like its second cousin once removed, anger, indiscriminately engulf
everything in its path. How wonderful to open a flood of courage and be carried on its waves to destinations of unexpected benefit."
2) "Trying something new opens up the possibility for you to enjoy something new. Entire careers, entire life paths, are carved out by people dipping their baby toes into small ponds and suddenly
discovering a love for something they had no idea would capture their imaginations."
3) "Trying something new keeps you from becoming bored. Even I, the most routine-loving person I know, become bored if I'm not continually challenged in some way. And it's not the new challenges
I'm eager to take on that represent my greatest opportunities for growth—it's the ones I'm not."
4) "Trying something new forces you to grow. We don't ever grow from taking action we've always taken (the growth that enabled us to be able to take it has already occurred). Growth seems to
require we take new action first, whether it's adopting a new attitude or a new way of thinking, or literally taking new action. Thrusting yourself into new situations and leaving yourself there
alone, so to speak, often forces beneficial change. A spirit of constant self-challenge keeps you humble and open to new ideas that very well may be better than the ones you currently hold dear
(this happens to me all the time)."
May 31, 2017
I'm excited to report that after nearly ten years and 350 rejection letters, I've signed with Post Hill Press, which distributes through Simon & Schuster.
Coming Winter 2017
A beautiful new cover designed by my publisher.
I get 10 free copies and I'm wondering what to do with them.
Coming This Summer
I'm going to reveal the real deal on what it took to get published--from crushing rejections by almost every agent in the book, to several near misses with major publishers, and finally what
it takes to get to where I want to go.
Follow me for updates on giveaways and cool news: facebook.com/joeltmcgrath
December 15, 2016
1) When I was younger and new to nursing my mother said something that stuck with me that I have been unable to forget.
‘When you give someone the benefit of the doubt,’ she said to me, ‘remember to do it with an open heart and mind.’
That was all she said on that subject, yet she talked even less as the years went by. We always had a subdued mother daughter relationship, but she made sure I knew what she meant. However, I’ve
always tried to never judge a person or situation with haste, which I believe has opened me up to ridicule on more than a few occasions. Those quick to judge are quick to deflect blame, defend
themselves, and deny any involvement when things become heated and sticky, and so I was a natural target in high school and college for wild claims of being a slut when in fact, I was still a
virgin. Yet I knew those same girls accusing me had deeper, darker secrets to hide, secrets I never told even to this day.
Most of the time I never asked to be a confidant—many times I faked excuses in order to remove myself or stated I did not wish
to hear such things, but in truth, listening to the confessions of my friends made me feel like I was a better person than them. Many of my friends talked of love and sex as if they were
interchangeable, like they were guys having one-night stands and bragging about toying with the opposite sex as only a woman can get away with these days.
Still, publicly, I attempted to smile and hold my tongue in hopes of being liked and thereby proving myself worthy of such
secrets and more. My mother reminded me that her generation had ‘morals,’ and that I was being sanctimonious and insincere given I had a ‘better upbringing’ than most of my friends.
I screamed at my mother, claiming she was being judgmental, but I was becoming everything I claimed to hate. Morals may be
instilled by atheistic beliefs or god-fearing parents, and like bedrock or sand they shift and move with time.
After returning from a trip out West at the end of last summer I discovered the world made less moral sense than even I could
excuse; I wished to give up my particular vices and parties while deciding to look inward at my own heart. I had lost faith in people, and then I met Gracie, a girl who helped restore my faith in
humanity. Gracie represented how the world should be, not how it is.
If character is a series of choices, then there was something amazing in her stride, some meaning to moral ethics that beckons
the question why. It was as if Gracie wasn’t real, she seemed too good to be true, almost as if she had stepped out of a black and white nineteen-thirties film. Me being enamored with her
had nothing to do with my own shortcomings, which I’m sure showed every time I left the house. Rather, she seemed confident but humble, assertive yet non-aggressive, she lived up to her name,
grace, Gracie, she had grace in forms and ways I had never beheld before nor since. Yes—Gracie was a fine nurse, the finest I had ever met since becoming one myself; still things haunted her,
what filthy rubble drifted in waves upon her nightmares, which briefly split my opinion of both her and the self-loathing and self-loving ebbs and flows of women.
2) I had come from a proud family, and a one-time rich, important family from New England. The Fitzgerald’s branched out all over New England, with a family rumor we had descended from elite
English royalty, the Windsor surname was a thing of pride in our family tree, even if we were just Irish. The real story is how my great-grandfather bought his first hotel, restaurant, and
department store for fifty dollars and a handshake during the great depression. As the story goes, the man who sold him all of that laughed upon shaking my great-grandfather’s hand, stating, “I
just made fifty bucks. I’ll be getting all this back like I did when the three before you defaulted on their mortgage.’ But he didn’t know my great-grandfather well. Great-grandfather served in
the First World War He served the last eighteen months of the war in the brig for punching out his commanding officer, so he wasn’t about to just give away fifty bucks, no, he made millions, but
then all his kids and grand-kids squandered all that money and opportunity. That’s why I’m a working girl. I never saw so much as a cent, but people still know my family’s last name, sometimes
for better, and sometimes for worse.
They say great-grandfather was a bastard, with a harsh expression on his face when in public. They also say my great-grandmother
was every bit the opposite, they also say I’m most like her in my soft appearance and easy spirit.
I graduated from Boston University with a degree in nursing in 2003, about twenty years after mother, but unlike her, I didn’t
get knocked up with, well, me. I sought the open road, and so I became a traveling nurse, and I traveled all over the country, seeing a great many things for many years. I loved traveling so
much, I became uneasy once I returned to New England to ‘settle down.’ New England was no longer the storybook place of my youth, rather it was another place that had lost all meaning to me after
a while—so I decided to just work at a retirement home. I went to work at a place called Odd Oaks. All my friends thought this was beneath me. I was a skilled nurse, and now I was just passing
pills, but the money was good, good enough to support a single woman. My family wanted me back in New England, so mom got them to pressure me as if I were picking colleges again, they all agreed,
‘You have to take the job,’ they said with monotone voices and blank faces. Mother was, had been a nurse for years, so she loaned me some money before I moved back and until my first paycheck
came in. I tried to think of ways to refuse the money or run to the other side of the world, I even said I could leave at any point if and when I came back to New England, but I wasn’t fooling
anyone except myself; I was here to stay arriving back the summer of 2012.
I couldn’t move back home with mom, so the useful thing was to find a place near Odd Oaks, but that was in the city, and being
an unusually hot summer, there were no places with air-condition to be found. I had departed sandy beaches and cool breezes, so a nurse at work offered her tiny, unrented cottage, which sounded
great, that is until I laid eyes on the moldy shutters, sun-worn green paint. I had my cat, Cornelius—until he suddenly died at a young age—but at least my 2001 Subaru hadn’t keeled over on me
yet, though he was showing signs of being on life-support since the trip back to New England.
Those first few weeks, I was so lonely. I thought about prison, and how when they want to punish you, they put you in isolation;
maybe I was punishing myself. Then, one day, I went down to the quaint country store. I heard some people talking about Odd Oaks while in line to check out. I spoke up proudly and said, ‘I work
there.’ The older ladies smiled at me. And as I left the store with goods in hand, my loneliness lifted. I felt proud of who I was and where I was going to be working now. The older ladies gave
me a sense of community, as if I already belonged.
August 14, 2016
Question: About your decision to enter the book in the Kindle Scout program; why chose to compete in the program instead of
publishing directly with KDP? Some folks might assume that if you have enough fans to win Kindle Scout, you may be better off just cutting out the middle man!
Answer: Good question! I suppose I need the validation of actually winning. Nothing’s wrong with KDP, but winning Kindle
Scout looks good on a writing resume’.
Question: Let's talk a little about your writing background. How long have you been writing and when did you catch the
writing bug? Any past publishing credits you want to share?
Answer: When I was six years old, my teenage sister let me watch a horror movie I should not have seen at such a young
age. It was called Trilogy of Terror. I think I had nightmares about the demonic doll in that movie until I was nearly twelve. I wrote a story where I actually killed the
doll, and after that, I never had another nightmare about that doll.
Some of my quotes have been used by other authors in their books and shared over a hundred thousand times on sites such as
Tumblr. I’ve been a four-time finalist with the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award and other YA and MG writing competitions. I’ve sold rights to publishing houses overseas, and I’m currently working
on a graphic novel with the above mentioned Disney illustrator.
Question: What new projects are you working on?
Answer: Right now I’m way too busy answering these questions. Just kidding. I’m always writing short stories, but the
truth is, there’s just not enough hours in the day to start what I’d like to finish. Because of that, Something Eternal doesn’t have any cliffhangers, but a great first draft to the second
book is ready to go should I win Kindle Scout. Plus there’s that graphic novel thingy.
Question: Any creative interests or hobbies outside of writing?
I like doing all kinds of stuff. I love music. If you like a certain song, I bet I have it on my mp3 player. I think my
writing reflects diversity of tastes. I’ll go to a theatrical play one day and play sports the next. I love the ocean. We have a rocky coastline here in New Hampshire, which I find romantically
enticing. I don’t know, it feels like Wuthering Heights while standing high above the rocky shore and gazing at the Isles of Shoals.
Question: What is the best piece of writing advice you ever received?
Answer: Short paragraphs, short chapters, short sentences.
Question: Be honest, what is the WORST piece of writing advice you ever received?
Answer: AHH! Everything! There’s just so much contradictory information out there. “No prologues.” Then it’s, “Where’s the
prologue?” “No semicolons,” only to find everyone else is using semicolons. Bottom line, you have to pick and choose what works for your writing style. Taste is subjective after all, but the
rules change from minute to minute it seems.
Question: Where can readers stalk you...I mean...learn more about you and your work? (FB, twitter, etc)
Answer: No, you can say it; I love being “stalked.” I post cool, fresh stuff, and I always answer readers’ questions and
look forward to hearing from you at these sites:
See the original interview: http://bardsandsages.com/juliedawson/2016/07/16/an-interview-with-joel-t-mcgrath/
August 11, 2016
So, what would you like to hear about today? How about how to avoid the slush pile? No. Then how about how I made my first sale? Still not interested, eh. Oh, I know, this one will get your pulse
revving: any one of a million other boring, pointless, self-aggrandizing subjects you couldn’t care less about.
Ya know, I just want to share some food with you. Right down the street, in thousands of locations around the world, and advertising non-stop everywhere, you have the burger joint. The
food’s…okay. They give you a subpar burger, fries, and shake. All of the food is thrown at you to choke down as fast as you can so you don’t think about, well, that it’s just okay I guess. Yeah,
it’s good tasting, but can you really remember one trip there from another? And you’re always hungry afterward.
On the other hand, you know this gem of a restaurant that no one else seems to have ever heard of, but my god, the few times you’ve eaten there, the meals have been memorable with friends,
family, and some of the best, organic, real food you’ve ever tasted.
Entertainment, and in this particular case, books, are food for the spirit. When I wrote Something Eternal, I wrote remembering that above all else, I wanted to create art. I want to bring
you a five-course meal you’ll share with family and friends. I want to serve you a meal you won’t soon forget. Sure, the burger joint gives you a bunch of stuff all at once, and it’s good when
you’re in a pinch, but how good is the burger by itself, or the fries, or the shake? If the meal is presented one course at a time, you can be sure it was crafted with a pinch of pride and a dash
of love before carefully rested upon your plate.
I hear so many people speed-reading through books, sometimes two or three books at the same time. Some of these books you can read the blurb, first page, and last page, jump thirty pages, and
know everything that happens. I’m sorry, I didn’t design Something Eternal like that.
The plot to Something Eternal is layered, yet linear. The environments are vibrant and engaging. The characters interact with each other in complicated and sometimes contradictory ways.
They love, hate, fear, desire, but most of all, they drive Something Eternal.
There’s room in the world for a large burger joint that fills your most immediate need. But there’s also room for a hidden gem you and yours feel right at home in every time you eat, and every
time you eat there, you look forward to eating there again.
Starting next week, I want to share some cool author interviews from a few wonderfully insightful book bloggers during my Something Eternal tour last month.
I guarantee at least one of the following: a laugh, a sigh, a chuckle, a rubbing of your chin, an inhale and an exhale, lip biting, mouth covering, a shiver, a tingle, despair, delight, more
questions, and finally...wait for it...more questions.
August 6, 2016
I want to thank the grassroots audience made up of readers, bloggers, and book clubs who, of their own free will, Tweeted, shared on Facebook, and voted in record numbers for
Something Eternal during its 30 day campaign.
Though Something Eternal will never be self-published, it has life because YOU demanded SOMETHING more, SOMETHING different, SOMETHING new, but most of all,
SOMETHING we shared.
The readers have spoken! You can feel the tide changing. When a book becomes more than just flat words on a page, it becomes a powerful experience filled with beauty that cannot be mass produced
in a factory. Rather, it is the individual who bends reality and transcends the everyday, collective mentality. It is for this reason alone Something Eternal
was crafted into existence, and now, your belief has made it almost real.
I'd like to post just a few of the wondrous, delightful, and amazing comments made by YOU.
There are moments in life where you realize that you have added your little pebble to someone’s Sistine Chapel. I knew it when I
first read Joel’s work. He asked me to be his beta reader for a book that was a “cross between Star Wars, Highlander & Jumper” Who could refuse that? Rebecca V.
Rebecca was named a top 1% reviewer by
Heather W. July 17,
2016 at 11:05 AM
"This book sounds pretty intense! Really enjoyed reading about Joel's background, too. Thanks
for including it. I love to see what the authors are up to."
GayNYCDad July 17, 2016 at 12:23 PM
"Sounds like a very interesting book!"
Anosa Malanga July 17, 2016 at 2:41
"I am already gripped by this book just by that short synopsis, I have to check it out big time as its really
Liz Mays July 17, 2016 at 3:48 PM
"When I read "someone is going to die", I got chills. It sounds like a page turner of a book. Great for
Bonnie Gowen July 17, 2016 at 11:12 PM
"This book sounds very interesting."
Rebecca Swenor July 18, 2016 at 6:19 AM
"This sounds like an interesting read indeed. I would love to read this book and I nominated
Couponing in Central Florida! July 18, 2016 at 8:34
"This sounds like a great book. A book that will definitely keep my interest this
Brandy Ellen July 18,
2016 at 10:47 AM
"Wow this sounds like a great campaign tour to be a part of. This sounds like a great book too! Thanks for sharing it
Ashleigh Thomas July 18, 2016 at 11:40 AM
"Sounds like a great thing to be apart of this book sounds really good as we'll thank you for
Christy Garrett July 18, 2016 at 12:23 PM
"This sounds like a wonderful book to read. It has been a while since I have read any
Rika Agustini July 19, 2016 at 1:18 PM
"Sounds like a wonderful book! I haven't read any books for a
diana ajih July 19, 2016 at 1:19 PM
"Sounds like an amazing book to read."
Marielle Altenor July
19, 2016 at 5:15 PM
"Totally piqued my interest!"
Marielle Altenor July 19, 2016 at 5:15 PM
"Totally piqued my interest!"
Peachy @ The Peach Kitchen July 24, 2016 at 8:41 AM
"This sounds like a very interesting book! I should get myself a
"I hope you enjoy as much as I did!" Lynchburg
"Great post! I really enjoyed reading the excerpt and the guest post. This book sounds
like such an interesting and intriguing read. Looking forward to checking out this book."--Ally S.
"Sounds great!"--Cyndi F.
totally in love with your cover too."--Crystal C.
"This sounds like a wonderful read. The cover is absolutely beautiful!"--Chaotic Karma
"Sounds like a great read."-- Esther G.
"I think this sounds super interesting."--Stephanie
"Such a beautiful
"This sounds like a really nice book. I am looking forward to reading it."--Sandra W.
"I think this sounds like a really interesting read! Has me intrigued!"--Janet
July 14, 2016
Something Eternal is my third, and most likely last time entering the Kindle Scout campaign. It's hard to tell if I'm getting closer to winning or farther
I've done everything imaginable. I've planned a three-week book blog tour four months in advance. I've promoted the heck out of Kindle Scout as a program. I've built a rather decent list on
Facebook. I'm connected on Pinterest, Twitter, and Goodreads. I've contacted people personally. I've had book clubs and small publishers contact me during the campaign, but still, when I
look at my campaign stats, I wonder if it's enough.
I try to stay positive and focused, but this nagging in my gut, which is kind of a big deal since I was recently diagnosed with stomach cancer, wonders if I'll taste success just once.
I know that if Something Eternal is given a shot, it would be one of Kindle Scout's best sellers. I know what I wrote, and a few other people with literary backgrounds
have seen it, and they agree, I'm not delusional, not about Something Eternal anyway.
I know certain people figure if a person doesn't win the Kindle Scout, said person will just release their book anyway. Well, I'm here to tell you that's not the case with Something
eternal. I didn't release Dwellers after it didn't win, and I certainly won't release Something Eternal to anyone either.
I feel that Something Eternal is destined for greater things than the 0.99 cent bin somewhere, and if it's not, I'm okay, I suppose, with not releasing it.
There's been a lot of people that have come forward--strangers, that have approached me about reading Something Eternal. To those fans out there, you honor me by seeing
the same vision as I do for Something Eternal.
Whenever you send me an email, IM, or just comment on a site, I smile...it brings me joy to share more than just a book, but an experience.
I almost forgot. If you haven't already, please nominate Something Eternal, share it with your friends and family, heck, share it with people you hardly know, you might get to know them a little
bit better, too. Remember, those who vote, get their name in the "Thank You Page" should Something Eternal win Kindle Scout.
(*Fingers and Toes Crossed*)
And above everything else, thank you.
Click the picture, (left) to see a short video about how Kindle Scout works.
July 5, 2016
Let your voices be heard by nominating these awesome books for a five-year Kindle Scout Publishing contract: